My first article discussed how easy it was to set up Linux on my work desktop. In this article, I'll explain how you can help colleagues switch to Linux.
I'd been using Linux at home since about 2001 and much preferred it to XP. So, when our company purchased new desktop machines for us just over a year ago, I couldn't resist the opportunity. As soon as my machine was ready, I downloaded the latest Kubuntu install disk and set to work.
I finished the installation as normal, rebooted and got ready for my KDE login. What I got was somewhat different. No UI, just thrown back to the command prompt. It turned out that the default ATI driver didn't work with the ATI graphics card in the machine. I updated the xorg configuration file to use the vesa driver and got the UI started. Shortly after that, I noticed the performance monitors were only recognising one CPU. The machines had a dual core AMD processor. Again, this was easy to fix. Simply install the latest SMP kernel and reboot. However, I was realising pretty quickly that none of my colleagues would ever switch to Linux if they had face these issues. Their setup had to be trivial.
The solution was clear. Everything would have to be documented. We run an excellent internal Wiki that contains lots of useful information. This was an ideal place to set up a Linux section. Every single step that was needed to have a fully functional Linux desktop would be documented here. I started with details of how to set up the correct graphic drivers and kernel. This information was to be used by I.S. Anyone who wanted a Linux desktop would leave it with our I.S. department. I.S. would install Kubuntu and follow the instructions on the Wiki to have it functioning properly.
After that, it was a matter of setting up the applications correctly. Each user would do this themselves. I wrote sections on the Wiki about:
- How to use Kontact with MS Exchange for email, calendaring and contacts.
- How to install applications and tools.
- How to connect remotely using FreeNx.
- How to set up printers
- How to use Samba
A few months went by before the first brave soul took the plunge. He got his machine up and running fairly quickly and has been using it ever since. Then, another few months and another convert. This one was really interesting. He was using XP on his T43 laptop. After installing wireless drivers, his machine ground to a halt. It was taking 10 minutes just to boot and became totally unusable. He installed Kubuntu, which detected his wireless card properly and the machine now runs smoothly. Two others are thinking of installing Kubuntu as well.
Colleagues who have made the switch have started contributing their own articles to the Wiki e.g. Installing JBoss, Oracle, GNOME, etc. Our office has approximately 15 people. In the space of one year, we have gone from zero Linux desktops to 20%. The people who are using Linux now are very happy with it.
In summary, if you want people to use Linux in the workplace, you have to make it easy for them to get started. Follow these steps to ease the pain for them and you:
- Do it yourself first. It's up to you to prove that Linux can be successful on the work desktop. Install it and work through any issues before you get others involved.
- Document Everything. It doesn't have to be on a Wiki. It could simply be a plain text document that you share on a server.
- Be patient. Take time to answer questions and solve problems.